October 31

LSD assisted therapy

Therapies

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What is LSD? 

LSD stands for lysergic acid diethylamide and is commonly referred to as acid. This drug was first synthesized in 1938 by Albert Hofmann. LSD is derived from the lysergic acid chemical found in the fungus ergot. The drug’s hallucinogenic properties, for which it is most commonly known, weren’t discovered until 1943. In the 1950s, LSD was sold and labeled as a medication called Delysid for various research purposes. Despite this early research into LDS’s medical benefit, this drug has since been listed as a prohibited drug in the United States and Canada. Without proper administration and prescription in clinical trials, the use of LSD is punishable by either prison time, a fine, or both. 

What is LSD-assisted therapy

LSD-assisted therapy is an experimental treatment that seeks to combine the numinous effects induced by LSD with traditional therapeutic practices to treat a variety of mental conditions. Currently, LSD-assisted therapy is only available as part of clinical trials. However, it’s anticipated that LDS-assisted therapy could possibly be available for the treatment of PTSD in 2022 if the FDA grants approval timely. Right now, it’s currently in Phase III of Clinical Trials with the FDA. 

What are the current clinical trials for LSD therapy

Here are some current and recent clinical trials that have been conducted for LSD-assisted therapy: 

What conditions are LSD used to treat? 

  • LSD for Treatment-Resistant Depression
  • LSD for Major Depressive Disorder
  • LSD for PTSD
  • LSD for Anxiety
  • LSD for OCD
  • LSD for substance abuse
  • LSD for opioid addiction
  • LSD for expansion of consciousness

What do experts say about using LSD to treat mental health conditions? 

“LSD administered in a medically supervised psychotherapeutic setting can be safe and generate lasting benefits in patients with a life-threatening disease. Explanatory models for the therapeutic effects of LSD warrant further study.” – Peter Gasser, Medical Office for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Solothurn, Switzerland; Katharina Kirchner, Psychologist MSc, Dietikon, Switzerland; and Torsten Passie Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School 

“LSD is revealed as a potential therapeutic agent in psychiatry; the evidence to date is strongest for the use of LSD in the treatment of alcoholism.” – Juan José Fuentes, Institut de Neuropsiquiatria i Addiccions, Hospital del Mar, Barcelona, Spain; Francina Fonseca, Addiction Research Group (GRAd);  Matilde Elices, Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Salud Mental, CIBERSAM; Magí Farré, Clinical Pharmacology Department, Hospital Universitari Germans Trias i Pujol (IGTP); and Marta Torrens, Psychiatry Department, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB)

What are the risks of LSD and LSD therapy

As an incredibly potent hallucinogenic drug, there are some potential risks that come with the administration of LSD. First and foremost, what’s colloquially known as a “bad trip” can occur. This experience is typically described as a potent state of confusion, dysphoria, and anxiety that can lead to behavior that’s erratic. When in an unsupervised and uncontrolled environment, this unpredictable behavior could be potentially harmful.  

Another potential risk is the worsening of certain psychotic disorders or the creation of extended psychotic reactions. It’s thought to predict some of these reactions as they’re related to the patient’s personal disposition. For this reason, it’s important that an initial screening be conducted before the administration of drugs in LSD therapy where the subject’s vulnerability and past experience with psychotic episodes are assessed. 

Physically speaking, the administration of LSD could lead to a variety of potentially harmful effects such as an increased heart rate and blood pressure. As a result, pregnancy, paranoid personality traits, epilepsy, and those who experience severe cardiovascular disease are typically excluded from LSD therapy clinical trials. 

What happens during LSD-assisted therapy sessions? 

How long is a typical session?

It’s tough to determine how long a typical LSD therapy session would last for a few reasons. First and foremost, there are no official LSD clinics offering this treatment because it’s still under review. Secondly, clinical trials still need to test different parameters to determine what’s most effective. However, given the known effects of LSD, it’s safe to assume the treatments would last for several hours. According to MAPS, a leader in the field, some individual sessions last seven to eight hours. 

What does the entire treatment plan or “protocol” look like? 

Generally, psychedelic-assisted therapy combines the use of psychedelic drugs, such as LSD, and the effects of traditional patient-therapist treatment. Clinicians and researchers often break these therapies down into three phases

  1. Preparation – This first step usually involves a preliminary health examination, time for the patient and therapist to become familiar with one another, and a description of the procedure to the subject. 
  2. Psychedelic Experience – During this phase, the prescribed amount of drug – LSD, in this case -is administered and the patient experiences the associated effects while the therapist remains present to oversee. 
  3. Integration – This period can last from immediately following the psychedelic session to several days afterward. It’s a time when the patient can work through and process the experience with the therapist to give it meaning. 

What will I feel during the LSD therapy session? 

LSD experience is associated with a broad spectrum of feelings. However, there is considerable overlap in some sensations. Here are some effects people who have received LSD experience: 

  • Feeling a greater sense of connection with the surrounding universe 
  • A sensation of having two identities or having the ability to objectively see oneself 
  • A change in the typical sense of self with a similar effect for body perception 
  • Altered perception of time and space 
  • Sensory enhancements 
  • Numinous experiences and senses of deep understanding 
  • A wider spectrum of emotions and quicker fluctuations 
  • An increase in empathy 
  • Psychotic changes (i.e. severe anxiety, perceptual distortion, thought disorder, hallucinations, illusions, etc.)

How much does LSD therapy cost? 

Due to the recency of these clinical trials and the lack of widespread availability, it’s difficult to accurately determine the cost of LSD therapy. However, it’s safe to assume that it would cost significantly more than other more traditional types of treatment. 

Am I eligible for insurance coverage? 

At this time, it’s very difficult to know for sure. However, it’s most likely that some insurance plans will cover LSD therapy for PTSD. While the clinical trials are still under review and the government has yet to accept it as a legitimate procedure, insurance companies won’t decide their policies on LSD therapy

Does LSD therapy intervene with my current treatment plan? 

It’s critical to consider how new therapies might intervene with current treatment plans. However, this question is tough to answer due to the small amount of research that’s been conducted in addition to the variability between each subject’s personal reactions. Regardless, it’s advisable to speak with your doctor about undergoing LSD therapy either as a patient in a clinical trial or in the future if it’s ever given the green light from the government. 

What to look for in a good LSD clinic? 

If LSD therapy becomes an accepted form of treatment, there are some important things to consider when looking for a good LSD clinic. 

Expertise: You should always search for a clinic with professionals who are highly knowledgeable in the field of LSD therapy. Ask all of the questions you have and don’t be afraid to ask for proof of experience or education history. You can always check out more than one clinic to find the one you prefer. 

Credentials: It’s safe to assume that the government will require LSD clinics and associated professionals to have certain credentials in order to practice legally if LSD-assisted treatment ever receives government approval. You’ll want to ensure the LSD clinic you use has the proper certifications. 

I am ready to take the next step, what do I do? 

If this treatment is something you’re interested in, fill out the interest form to be notified when LSD-assisted therapy will become available. 

Please refer to our in-depth article about LSD therapy for more information.Disclaimer: This website does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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About the author 

Karen Tunnell

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